For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
You’ve got to be kidding me. I started working real jobs when I was fifteen. Back in those days you had to be at least fifteen to get a work permit and a social security number. When that happened, I started working at a restaurant as a dishwasher for 75 cents an hour. Later I moved up in the world working as a “bag boy” at a grocery store.
It’s funny how certain memories stay with you from your early years. I remember mom and dad driving me to and from work since I wasn’t old enough to drive. A little later I finally got my license and I remember the thrill and anxiety as I drove myself the six or seven miles to the “Food Fair.” My responsibilities were to bag the people’s groceries and carry them to their car. I can’t remember how much I made per hour but I believe it was bumped up from the restaurant gig to a whopping $1.25 plus tips. The standard tip, if you got one, was a quarter. It was a big day, like “ring the bell” big, if you got a dollar. It was a rare thing—something akin to winning the lottery. Well, one Saturday “it” happened. No, not that “it.” It was this bag boy’s worse nightmare.
Saturday was the big shopping day at the grocery store so we were busy. All the lanes were open and we were bagging like crazy—cans on the bottom and bread on top. It wasn’t uncommon to scan the lines to get what appeared to be the best bagging gig. You wanted a customer who looked generous with an order big enough to get a tip but not too big. You know, the whole balance of the universe thing. Then I saw her. A lady was in line and she had four or five carts full of groceries. She must have only shopped for groceries once a year. This one was a gamble but it could be the golden dollar tip or even more. I was in.
Off we went. The cashier was ringing it up and I was bagging it. On and on it went. Finally, after what seemed hours, the last item was rang up and in the bag. The order was somewhere over $140. Keep in mind this was 1970 and that was a lot of money and a lot of groceries. Payday was in sight. And then she said it, “I think you overcharged me. I want to see the manager.” Well, this was not going to be good. He came over and the decision was made to re-ring the entire order. Bummer.
I began to take each item out of the dozens of bags and the cashier began to re-ring the order. After a year or so (ok, it only seemed like a year) the new total was in and it was actually more than the first time. Good grief. Well, she wasn’t happy but she did pay the bill. Off we went with a “wagon-train” of grocery carts and I filled the back of her “ark” sized car and back seat. All I could think of was dollars…that was a mistake. She gave me the grand total, the whopping amount of—nothing. Zero. Nada. All that was given was a curt thank-you and I was left standing there. No tip. No big payday. Nothing. I was disappointed and devastated. I had taken the gamble and lost. Like Kenny Roger’s song, I should have known when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, and when to walk away”.
Well, that story wedged its way into my memory. I know she wasn’t pleased, but it wasn’t my fault. Yet the kid who’s “take home” was hugely supplemented by quarters was left holding the bag—no pun intended. That might be the reason that I have learned to be sure and thank the ones who serve me. Just like me back then, those who serve us today are largely dependent on our generosity. I remember my daughter worked at a restaurant for a time. She has one of those really good personalities and I know she did a great job. But she told me one day how the ones who tipped the least were the Jesus crowd. I said, “Are you sure?” And she affirmed what she said. Hmmm.
A friend of mine told a story of a customer who had a $36.00 tab and left a dollar tip. Too many times there is nothing. By now you are saying, “Dewayne, have you lost your mind writing about tipping?” I’m not writing about tipping…I’m writing about generosity. You see, if anyone should be generous it should be the Jesus people. We have experienced the generosity of the greatest giver of all—our Dearest Daddy—who gave His Son so that we could become family. If we have experienced such grace, shouldn’t we extend such grace—such generosity? I think so.
It has been said that we Jesus people are the only Bible some people will ever read. It just seems to make sense that we should make sure we are turning to the right pages in that Bible as we do life. And by the way, that mixed up order, that slow order probably rests on someone besides the server. And by the way, God doesn’t just show His generosity when we get it right—He’s generous regardless. So, Jesus person, Christian, believer—whatever name you go by, let’s be sure that the example we set for those around us—whether they serve us at a restaurant or pick up our trash—point to Jesus. When that seems hard—just rest in Him. If it seems impossible—don’t worry, do it anyway, He’s got this.